Tommy Ellis was the first to hoist a NASCAR trophy in 1990 and Rusty Wallace was the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver to celebrate in victory lane that hot July day in 1993. From green flag to checkered drivers, crews, and fans have enjoyed a “magical” partnership between New Hampshire Motor Speedway and NASCAR.
This year the speedway will celebrate “20 Years of Motorsports Magic,” with some of racing’s most recognized figures, as drivers past and present celebrate the milestone and take a look back at just how far NHMS has come in such a short period of time. They joined dozens of race fans in Loudon today to celebrate the 20th Anniversary.
“Bob Bahre knew that there were NASCAR fans in the northeast,” said Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager of New Hampshire Motor Speedway. NHMS was New England’s field of dreams, he knew that if he built it they would come, and it’s exciting to celebrate the past 20 years.”
Fan favorite Mark Martin has raced in 26 NHMS Sprint Cup Series events, including the very first one in 1993. He logged his first Cup win here just last season. “New Hampshire Motor Speedway has always been one of those tracks I could not seem to win at. We went up there for the very first race and sat on the pole and I thought ‘Man, this is going to be a good track for us.’ And then I went like 25 races before actually winning there. Which I thought was never going to happen,” said Martin. New Hampshire is a tough track. You can’t just man-handle your car around there. You’ve got to have a great handling race car. And you’ve got to have patience and a game plan. We were close so many times before sealing the deal last year. That was very, very special for me.”
New England’s own Ricky Craven raced his way to victory lane and the hearts of fans for many years at the “Magic Mile.” “The thing that really stands out in my mind about this place is the fans, the way they treat me every time I am back, said Craven. In NASCAR there is really no home court advantage and here I have it, and it’s awesome to see the loyalty of a New England fan.”
The success of NHMS is due to the vision of Bob and Gary Bahre. The father and son duo that took a small, short racetrack and turned it into the motorsports powerhouse it is today. Whether it was new technology, attractions, or thousands of grandstands the Bahre family supplied it.
"My brother Richard and son Gary were a big help. I'm kind of proud we built it ourselves," said Bob Bahre. "It wasn't a big corporation and when it was built, it was the first one in 20 s years. It wasn't easy. We didn't have any dates for a couple years and then it went along and worked out right."
The “Magic Mile” is one of the few sites on the NASCAR circuit that enjoys two Sprint Cup Series races a year. The June race kicks off the “Race to the Chase,” and the September race begins the “Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup,” the first of 10 playoff style races to decide the Series Champion.
“This place in my mind is ideal,” said NASCAR legend Bobby Allison. “I’ve won at the big places like Daytona and Talladega, but there not as fun to race on as the half mile and mile (tracks) because you really have to drive the car around it every time and driver has to do his part.”
Join us for the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 on Sunday, June 27 and the SYLVANIA 300 on Sunday, September 19 by visiting us online at www.nhms.com or by calling our Ticket Hotline.